Shirley Samson Collection.

Reference Code

GB243 T/SOR/35

Title

Shirley Samson Collection

Dates of Creation

1971 – 1984

Extent

5 items

Name of Creators

Shirley Samson

Level of Description

Fonds

Administrative History

Shirley Sampson (formerly Grice, Colgan) was born Shirley Margaret Cross on 6 March 1948 in Sheffield where she grew up until her family moved to York in 1962. While studying at Edge Hill Teacher Training College, Ormskirk, Lancashire in 1967 she met Richard Dale Grice, a bombardier in the Royal Artillery (Service Number 24015476). They married in 1969 and lived in Menden, Westfalen, West Germany until November 1970 when Richard was posted to Bulford, Wiltshire. He was due leave until January 1971 and during this break they stayed with Shirley’s parents in York, where they attended a Labour Party Young Socialists meeting. Shirley had been a member of the Labour Party since 1964 and Richard was interested in politics and current affairs. At the meeting there were discussions about working conditions and Richard spoke out about the Army.

Afterwards they were approached by Chris Knight, a student of Russian at Leeds University and a leading Trotskyist member of the Leeds Young Socialists who was keen to hear more about Richard’s army experiences.

After several meetings with Chris, they met other members of the Leeds group and Richard was asked to write The Soldier’s Charter to spread the word about the need for a trade union in the Army. Shirley began an equivalent document, The Soldiers’ Wives Charter but this received little support and remained unfinished.

They adopted the acronym Soldiers’ Trade Union Rights Movement (STURM) because of its connotations with ‘storm’ in English and German. The design of the rectangular ‘logo’ with the large central dot, the white ellipse and the diagonals were deliberately derived from military signals which meant ‘danger ahead’.

Shirley was teaching in Leeds from January to Easter 1971 until they were given quarters in Bulford from April. They continued to meet the group in Leeds and to meet Chris at weekends in York and later in London. Around 500 booklets were printed for weekend distribution at the main London railway stations. With LPYS helpers they gave out copies at the main stations such as King’s Cross and Euston on Friday and Sunday evenings to soldiers travelling at weekends. Stations were private property, so they were quickly chased off. Richard would have been court-martialled immediately had he been arrested or found out.

Despite its limited distribution the Charter provoked a few supportive articles in Inkspot magazine, as well as items in a few national newspapers and Radio 4’s The World at One. They were even listening to the radio with Richard’s unsuspecting mother in Ormskirk when the item was transmitted. Richard immediately left to call the BBC from a local telephone box to ‘support’ this great idea. A week or so later Richard was interviewed (wearing Shirley’s wig-hat as a disguise) in London’s Regent’s Park by a journalist from The Guardian. However the promised article based on the interview never appeared. They believed coverage in the media had been curtailed owing to the issue of a D-notice. No further articles appeared in the press after that. Around this time Richard joined the Transport and General Workers’ Union.

In practice their agitation movement to start a union within the armed forces proved impossible to grow – mainly because communicating the message was difficult and dangerous for serving forces personnel.

In the summer of 1971 Richard was sent to Mons for 5 months of officer training.

He was commissioned on 5th November 1971 and transferred to a regiment based in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, where their son was born. Immediately after being commissioned he returned to Northern Ireland for another (3rd or 4th) tour until March 1972. This tour changed him, however, and the marriage deteriorated. Richard’s political activities stopped and Shirley left their married quarters in October 1973. They divorced in December 1975 and did not to meet again for almost 20 years, although Richard re-engaged with his son from the age of 16. They remained on distant but amicable terms. Richard reached the rank of Major by the time he retired. He remarried twice, studied at UCL and became a successful business consultant. He died unexpectedly on 6 September 2015 aged 69.

Scope and Content

This collection includes publications,handwritten notes, newspaper cuttings and correspondence relating to the rights of those serving in the British Armed Forces.

System of Arrangement

The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received.

Custodial History

Shirley Samson

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Shirley Samson

Appraisal, Destruction, Scheduling

Appraised according to the Spirit of Revolt appraisal policy.

Accruals

Further accruals expected

Access Conditions

Open

Copyright Reproduction

Application for reproduction should be made to the Spirit of Revolt group.

Existence of Copies

No known copies.

Finding Aids

Descriptive list available at Glasgow City Archives and on the Spirit of Revolt website.

Publication Note

The Soldiers Charter

Related collections

Other Spirit of Revolt (Ref: T/SOR) collections held at Glasgow City Archives.

Date(s) of Description

Compiled by Paula Larkin (Project Archivist) September 2017.

1

The Soldiers Charter

Pamphlet written from within the armed forces with an address to Labour Party Members and the Trade Union Movement by Chris Knight, Young Chartists National Committee Member, May Day 1971 includes shipping Manifest from Abe Books 22 Nov 2010. Another edition of this pamphlet is available online at: http://www.chrisknight.co.uk/the-soldiers-charter/

1970 – 1971

2

The Soldiers’ Wives Charter, Discussion document published by Writers, Artists and Media Workers for a Miners’ Victory.

Printout of an unpublished document written by Shirley Samson in 1971 and subsequently published in 1984 – Discussion document published by Writers, Artists and Media Workers for a Miners’ Victory was added to the title. Downloaded from: http://www.chrisknight.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/the-soldiers-wives-charter.pdf.

1971 – 1984

3

ER [Elisabeth Regina] [British Forces Education] Service Schools [Jotter].

Shirley Samson’s notebook of which eight double-sided pages are used. Includes: handwritten notes with newspaper cuttings Drummers late for roll call, Correspondent, The Guardian, 4 June 1971; Soldiers Can Sue Ulster, Edward Scallan, Daily Mail, 3 June 1971; Union Jack song case men cheered, Reporter and Four IRA arrests, The Guardian 4 June 1971. It also includes: expenses; exam notes; suggested schema and ideas and practise letters to Emily a girl Shirley adopted through Action Aid. The back cover contains handwritten financial notes.

1971 – 1984

4

The Destruction of Loyalty, An examination of the threat of propaganda and subversion against the armed forces of the West [by] Anthony Burton, published by the Foreign Affairs Research Institute.

63 page monograph with original invoice for payment. The Soldiers Charter is referenced on page 52 and there is a handwritten note containing the reference details of Trade unionism in the British Armed Forces and the “Soldier’s Charter”held at The National Archives.

1976

5

Letter from European Council of Conscripts Organisations (ECCO), Utrecht to At Ease, London with a print out of a letter from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), London.

A letter informing At Ease of a request from Anthony Everson at the MoD, for a copy of The Soldiers’ Charter.

1996